More than band-aids and temperature checks: School nurses become crucial during the pandemic

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - There are things school nurses have always done and continue to do for students’ health, including physical and mental.

“We deal with a lot of things on a daily basis from head lice, to pink eye, to strep, to flu, soar throats,” said Kim Franks, district nurse, student health coordinator at River Road ISD.

However, the pandemic has made that role even more vital.

Cheyenne Tracy, is one of five nurses in her district and says one of the biggest changes for school nurses has been the amount of time they spend consulting and educating families.

“I totally understand when they are frustrated,” said Tracy. “Because this is time they have to take off work and that’s the fear of ‘Does my child have this? Are they going to get this?”

Aside from educating, the pandemic has also added contact tracing to school nurses repertoire.

“We’re interviewing sick kids, we’re interviewing teachers, we’re reviewing video, trying to identify what warranted a quarantine and what didn’t,” said Tracy.

Although these nurses are able to juggle so much, they are not immune to burnout.

“Everyday is a struggle, you just don’t know what’s going to walk through your door,” said Franks.

“It’s only you and so, it’s so easy to think ‘Leave it at work,’ said Tracy. “At floor nursing when you clock out, that’s it you go home and here you’re constantly thinking, I need to do this, I need to fix this. Did I check on this kid?”

While the end of mask mandates has given these nurses hope that we’re heading towards pre-pandemic times, there are still daily struggles.

“Our students, I mean, they’ll walk around like we do sometimes and their mask isn’t up so is a continual, everybody staying on top of that,” said Franks.

Both nurses agree that pandemic symptoms extend beyond purely physical. They have noticed an increase in anxiety and depression among students and staff members, but believe better days are on the horizon as the school year is coming to an end.

“We just do what we have to do, you know, we have good kids, we have good parents, we have good staff, we just do what we need to do to make it through the day,” said Franks.

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